Saturday, January 12, 2019

It’s really just simple math






Too many state governors operate under the assumption that the key to economic growth is to cut taxes – but it is not.


The recession of 2008-2009 was devastating for just about every state. Overall, 50 state tax revenue declined about 12% in that two year time period, but some states did worse. We’re all familiar with the disaster that Sam Brownback brought to Kansas, but Arizona’s relentless tax cutting produced even worst results. By the middle of 2009, tax revenue in Kansas had declined at roughly the save average as the 50 state total (12%), but Arizona’s tax revenue actually declined nearly 20% in the same time period.
In the 12 year time period from 2006 forward, the 50 state increase in revenue is up 9%, Kansas is only up by 2%, and Arizona’s tax revenue growth is exactly ZERO. For those who think that high taxes kill growth, it’s worthwhile to note that Massachusetts, a high tax state, has tax revenues 3% higher than the national average.

The difference between having a robust economy and a lousy one is the state’s investment in education. To a very large degree, states that spend the most on education have the best schools, the highest per capita income, and the lowest percentage of children living in poverty.


The chart below overlays a couple of statistics that prove that education is KEY almost all the time. As always, there will be some exceptions, since New York and Washington D.C spend the most per pupil on students. New York's schools are only average, and the D.C. area has some of the worst schools in the country.


rank 
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  bachelor's degrees low income per cap income  religious
1 Mass 13th 7th 1st - 43.4% 26.70% 61,000 50
2 N.J. 2nd 3rd 3rd - 39.7% 29.40% 60,000 19
3 N.H.  9th 10th 8th - 36.9 % 22.80% 55,000 50
4 Conn. 15th 2nd- $18.958 5th - 38.7 % 29.30% 67,000 47
5 VT 11th 4th - $17,873 7th - 38.3 % 33.00% 48,000 48
6 Minn 34th 17th 9th 28.30% 51,000 35
7 VA 20th 24th 5th - 38.7 % 30.60% 52,000 14
8 WY 38th 6th 37th 34.40% 55,000 22
9 NE 4th 18th 21st 36.40% 48,000 22
10 IA 1st - 91.3% 36th 32nd 32.80% 45,000 19
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  adults with bachelors degree % of low income  per cap income 
11 UT 26th WORST - $6953 12th 31.50% 39,000 12
12 MD 12th 12th 3rd - 39.7% 28.80% 56,000 2
13 ND 13th 15th 25th 27.70% 54,000 27
14 PA 21st 9th 23rd 35.40% 49,000 27
15 CO 44th 37th 2nd - 41.% 30.90% 50,000 41
16 WI 9th 2rd 26th 33.90% 46,000 44
17 Wash 39th 21st 11th 32.40% 51,000 44
18 Ind. 19th 33rd 40th 39.80% 41,000 22
19 KS 23rd 31st 14th 38.00% 46,000 19
20 SD 27th 39th 34th 34.60% 45,000 16
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  adults with bachelors degree % of low income  per cap income 
21 ME 17th 16th 20th 31.70% 42,000 48
22 Mont 24th 25th 19th 37.80% 41,000 39
23 Ohio 28th 19th 35th 40.00% 43,000 17
24 ILL 25th 13th 13th 36.60% 49,000 33
25 Del 25th 11th 22nd 37.40% 48,000 32
26 NY 37th HIGHEST-$23K 10th 38.90% 58,000 43
27 FL 36th 27th 27th 45.20% 44,000 10
28 NC 22nd 44th 25th 42.50% 41,000 10
29 RI 30th 8th 17th 32.40% 51,000 35
30 MO 6th 29th 30th 40.50% 43,000 15
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  adults with bachelors degree % of low income  per cap income 
31 Hawaii 31st 14th 18th 27.10% 48,000 41
32 KY 7th 32nd 45th 42.50% 39,000 13
33 TX 5th 40th 28th 44.40% 47,000 11
34 Idaho 39th 49th 49th 41.50% 38,000 33
35 GA 43rd 35th 25th 43.00% 41,000 8
36 Tenn 8th 43rd 38th 43.90% 42,000 3
37 Oregon 47th 28th 14th 38.10% 43,000 39
38 Mich 39th 20th 30th 40.50% 42,000 27
39 Ark 17th 34th 47th 48.80% 39,000 5
40 CA 29th 22nd 16th 39.50% 53,000 35
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  adults with bachelors degree % of low income  per cap income 
41 SC 32nd 30th 35th 46.50% 38,000 6
42 OK 35th 46th 42nd 47.00% 44,000 9
43 WV 3rd- 89.8% 25th lowest - 20.2% 46.30% 37,000 7
44 Alaska 46th 5th 33rd 33.30% 56,000 44
45 AZ 42nd 47th - $7613 29th 44.80% 39,000 27
46 Alabama 16th 38th 42nd 46.20% 39,000 1 - 77%
47 NV 49th 41st 44th 41.60% 42,000 35
48 Miss 33rd 45th 49th 51.20% 35,000 1 - 77%
49 LA 45th 27th 46th 49.30% 44,000 4
50 NM lowest - 71% 36th 39th 52.90% 38,000 18
   
51 DC 28,000 71,000 27
U.S. 48,000
H.S. grade rate  per pupil spending  adults with bachelors degree % of low income  per cap income 
As a general rule, the states that have the best-funded schools also have the highest per capita income. The states that are miserly when it comes to education have per capita income that is as much as $30,000 less than the most prosperous states. They also have the highest percentage of children living in poverty. Both New Mexico and Mississippi have more than 50% of their children living in poverty.


If your life is feeling like it’s a dead end, the logical response is to ask for help from a higher power, which is why 77% of the population of Alabama and Mississippi consider themselves to be “very religious” – which makes them prey to religious hucksters.


John Oliver produced a show about 3 years ago that gave more insight into the problem:


Finland now has the best public schools in the world, and a large part of the reason is that teaching is a highly regarded profession, and teachers are paid very well.


In contract, too many teachers in America do not get the respect that they deserve. Arizona does not have the lowest average teacher salary, but it is close to the bottom, with an average of $47,456, for a ranking of 47. South Dakota is the worst, with an average of $40,934, and the highest average salary is in New York, which has an average of $77,629, only slightly above the District of Columbia, which has an average of  $75,490.

Since I work as a substitute teacher most days of the week, I see firsthand how hard teachers have to work. Part of that work involves class size, and Arizona has the 2nd highest average number of students per class in the country, at 23.8. Only Nevada is higher.

Due to poor pay, and difficult working conditions, many states have trouble attracting teachers. As of September of 2018, nearly 1 in 4 Arizona teaching positions are not filled. The teacher walkout last spring was a desperate attempt by the teachers to recover some of $1 billion that state had cut from education in the last decade, and they succeeded – at least to a degree.


There is a very old saying that if you want to get water out of that well, you need to prime the pump. By the same token, if you want GREAT economic growth in your state, you first have to “prime the pump” – by investing in education.















Tuesday, January 1, 2019

I want to be a rock star




“I want to be a rock star” is the fifth U.S. single by the Canadian rock band Nickelback from their fifth album, All the Right Reasons (2005). It is the band’s most popular single, and was at the top of the charts in both the U.K. and the United States. It has sold 4.5 million copies in America. Listening to it always makes me smile:


In 2012, Nickelback released their 7th studio album. “Lullaby” was the 4th single on the album. Every time I watch it, I actually get tears in my eyes. It depicts a young unmarried couple rushing to the maternity ward for the birth of their first child. After leaving the hospital, the father briefly considers giving up his new son for adoption, but quickly decides against it because he had already fallen in love with the little guy.


If you do a little digging, you’ll discover that the video actually says a LOT about our society, and the Washington Post article posted below goes into a lot more detail:


Here’s the short version:

In 2017, the United States saw the fewest babies born in 30 years, which should be a cause for concern, and the experience of Japan explains why.

In 2018, Japanese women gave birth to 921,000 babies – the lowest number since comparable records were first kept in 1899. Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Japan hit their highest level in nearly a century.

Why does this matter? Well, it’s hard for an economy to grow with fewer workers. As more people age out of the workforce, a swelling number of retirees must depend on a shrinking number of working people to power the economy. The tax base required to fund public services for those retirees — including health care and elder care — also shrinks. As a result, Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is now 253%.


America’s debt to GDP ratio is 105.4%. Countries that have limited social programs, like Russia and Saudi Arabia, have very low debt to GDP ratios. 
In 1980, when Japan had the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world (behind the United States), its debt to GDP ratio was only 50.6%. Japan’s economy was surpassed by China in 1990, and in the year 2000, China had overtaken the United States in incremental growth in its economy. Japan’s economic growth is now less than the growth rate in China, the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Russian, and Germany.


One of the reasons for Japan’s shrinking population is that the average age in Japan has been rising, reducing the number of child-bearing women, and the fertility rate of women who ARE still of child-bearing age has been declining.

Another reason for the decline is that the Japanese marriage rates have also fallen. Unlike America, however, the number of births to unmarried women is only 2%, considerably lower than the overall 40% rate experienced in America.  The rate also varies considerably by ethnicity. 72% of the births of African-American women in America are to single women, and 49% of the births to Hispanic births are to single mothers, Both of those figures contrast sharply with the experience of Asian women, who have an unmarried birth rate of only 10.9%.

There are 2 solutions for Japan’s problems, both of us also apply to the United States: (1) make it easer to have children, via better child care and family leave programs, and (2) an increase in the number of immigrants. Neither one will happen in America until we have more responsible leaders.

To quote Megan McArdle, of the Washington Post, "Like any other asset, this one (people) needs to be replenished by continual reinvestment. A society that stops replacing itself is like a trust-fund kid dipping into the capital. The accounts empty at an accelerating pace, and a bill eventually comes due that cannot be paid.


https://tucson.com/opinion/national/megan-mcardle-can-immigration-save-the-u-s-from-its/article_90103973-0f6a-5f75-a717-db712828ad56.html

The “Lullaby” video also suggests a society that is much more forgiving that it was in 1960, when only 5% of our overall births was to unwed mothers, and it has risen in nearly every year since that time.


The reduced stigma of unwed motherhood has also led to a steady decline in the number of abortions in America, and it is now at its lowest level since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. It peaked when Ronald Reagan was president, and declined every year until 2006, when George W. Bush was president.


Another topic that the video touched on, very briefly, was the maternal death rate. It wasn't until I watched the video for the 3rd time that I realized that the mother (and not the baby) had died in the delivery room - and that also says a lot about our society.
America has the highest maternal death rate of ANY developed nation, and the rate is going up. The solution, of course, is more funding from the Federal government, which
could fund programs like California's Maternal Mortality Review Board, which reduced maternal mortality by 50% in its first decade of operation. Sadly, though, increased funding for better maternal health is not a priority for the current administration.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/05/10/maternal-deaths-mothers-mortality-column/595818002/

Music has always been a reflection of our society, frequently to the chagrin of the older generation, but a song like “Lullaby” (in 3 minutes and 45 seconds) can make all of us feel better about our future.






Friday, December 28, 2018

By the time we get to Woodstock ..





The 1960’s were one of the most tumultuous decades of our country’s history.

The first big event of the decade was the Greensboro lunch counter sit-in, which started on February 1, 1960. By the end of the summer of 1960, Woolworth’s lunch counters were fully integrated. 



From May of 1961 until December of 1961, Freedom Riders rode interstate busses into the segregated south to protest racial segregation. 



In 1962, James Meredith (inspired by JFK’s inaugural speech) applied to became the first African-American to be admitted to the University of Mississippi. It took federal intervention to get him in, but he eventually graduated in August of 1963 with a degree in political science.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald.



In 1964, Barry Goldwater was the Republican nominee in the 1964 presidential race. Due to his extreme views, he only carried 6 states in the general election, and lost to LBJ 486 to 52 in the electoral college. Obviously, America still was not ready for a crazy man to occupy the Oval Office (that happened much later).

1964 was also the year when the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed by Congress, which ultimately led to 11 more years of war and almost 58,000 deaths.

In 1965, race riots in  Watts started on August 11.



By 1966, the United States had increased the number or troops in Vietnam to 500,000.

1967 was the year that the “summer of love” occurred. In spite of that theme, race riots started in Detroit in July. Significantly, 1967 was also the year that the Beatles released the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band” album. To add a little more excitement to the year, Arab forces attacked Israel on Yom Kippur day in October.




1968 was the year that started out with the Tet offensive, moved to the MLK assassination in April, the Bobby Kennedy assassination in June, and the disastrous Democratic convention in Chicago in August.

After all of those events, what American REALLY needed was 3 days of peace and music, and it finally happened in August of 1969.



Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael LangArtie KornfeldJoel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. Lang had some experience as a promoter, having co-organized a festival on the East Coast the prior year, the Miami Pop Festival, where an estimated 25,000 people attended the two-day event.

The music festival was originally intended to be a profit making venture to finance a sound studio, but the event turned out much differently than planned.

Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture. It famously became a "free concert" only after the event drew hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for. Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to about $120 and $160 today). Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a post office box at the Radio City Station Post Office located in Midtown Manhattan. Around 186,000 advance tickets were sold, and the organizers anticipated approximately 200,000 festival-goers would turn up. Eventually, of course, the number of attendees blossomed to 500,000.  

After several changes of venue, the festival finally wound up at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. At the time of the festival in 1969, Yasgur was married and had a son and daughter. On January 7, 1970, he was sued by his neighbors for property damage caused by the concert attendees.In 1971, Yasgur sold the 600-acre farm, and moved to Marathon, Florida, where, a year and a half later, he died of a heart attack at the age of 53.





The promoters originally offered Yasgur $50 a day to rent his farm, but the farmer knew that amount was absurdly low. Ultimately, the promoters agree to pay $75,000 to rent his land. When his neighbors objected, it strengthened his resolve, and he decided to go ahead with his plan to rent his land. 

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1973-woodstock-s-unlikely-host-dies-1.5401698

The late change in venue did not give the festival organizers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, organizers felt they had two options: one was to complete the fencing and ticket booths, without which the promoters would lose any profit or go into debt; the other option involved putting their remaining available resources into building the stage, without which the promoters feared they would have a disappointed and disgruntled audience. When the audience began arriving by the tens of thousands the next day, the Wednesday before the weekend, the decision was made for them. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were forced to make the event free of charge. Though the festival left its promoters nearly bankrupt, their ownership of the film and recording rights more than compensated for the losses after the release of the hit documentary film in 1970.


Overall, the festival featured performances by 32 bands and 51 hours of almost interrupted music, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, and ending at 11 a.m. Monday morning. Individual band performances ranged from 25  minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes (by Jefferson Airplane). The Who actually performed the most number of songs (23) in their hour on the stage.

Crosby Stills Nash & Young did not perform until Sunday at 3 a.m., but their song, “Woodstock” (written by Joni Mitchell) perfectly captured the event:

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
When I asked him where are you going
This he told me.

I'm going down to Yasgur's farm
Think I’ll join a rock and roll band
I'll camp out on the land
I'll try and set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel just like a cog in something turning.
Well maybe it’s the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
And I don't know who I am

But life’s for learning. 

We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden. 

By the time I got to Woodstock
They were half a million strong
Everywhere there were songs and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation. 


We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden. 


We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.


The link below lists the performers who were at the festival:


The list below provides additional bio data on all of them:

1.1 – Richie Havens -died in 1973 – age 72

1.2 – Swami Satchidananda - died in 2002 – age 87

1.3 – Sweetwater - reunited in 1994 – all gone now

1.4 – Bert Sommer - died in 1990 – age 41

1.5-  Tim Hardin - died 1980 – age 39 – heroin overdose

1.6 – Ravi Shankar - died 2012 – age 92

1.7 – Melanie Shafka - still living – age 71

1.8 – Arlo Guthrie - still living – age 71

1.9 – Joan Baez - still living – age 77


2.1 – Quill - disbanded – one member still performing

2.2 – Country Joe McDonald - age 76 – still performing

2.3 – Santana - age 71 – still performing

2.4 – John B. Sebastian - age 74 – still performing

2.5 – Keef Hartley band - still performing in 1980 - current status unknown

2.6 – The Incredible String band - active until 2006

2.7 – Canned Heat - still active

2.8 – Mountain - active until 2010

2.9 – Grateful Dead - disbanded in 1995 – some still active until 2015

2.10 – Creedence Clearwater revival - active until 1972

2.11 -  Janis Joplin - died in 1970 – age 27 – heroin overdose

2.12 – Sly and the Family Stone - active until 1987

2.13 – The Who - some members still active

2.14 – Jefferson Airplane - active until 1996 – some members still performing



3.1 – Joe Cocker - died 2014 – age 70

3.2 – Country Joe and the Fish - disbanded in 1970 -  some members still perform

3.3 – Ten Years After - still active

3.4 – The Band - disbanded 1999

3.5 – Johnny Winter - died 2014 – age 70

3.6 – Blood, Sweat and Tears - still active

3.7 – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - active until 2016

3.8 – Paul Butterfield Blues band - died 1987 – age 44 – heroin overdose

3.9 – Sha Na Na - still active

3.10 – Jimi Hendrix - died 1970 – age 27 – overdosed on sleeping tablets 

Rain made a mess of the festival, but it didn’t cause many people to leave early:



The late Joe Cocker (who was quite obviously inebriated) captured the spirit of the event with his song “ I get high with the help of my friends”:


Since we were smack dab in the middle of our involvement in Vietnam, a few of the bands swerved into anti-war themes. The classic, of course, is the song by Country Joe and the Fish, titled “ I feel like I’m fixin’ to die”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qPUJhy0Dz4 

After 1969, anniversary events were held in 1994 and 1999, but the BIG news is that the 50th anniversary concert will be held at the same site as the original, starting on August 16, 2019. 



Yes, I know that nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be, but if you had the chance, why in the world would you NOT go to the 2019 Woodstock festival?

Just sayin’

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Christmas that never came







The presents are all wrapped under our cute little tree, many of our neighbors have strung bright lights on the outside of their houses, and the mail box takes in a handful of Christmas cards every day of the week.

However, there WAS a time in America, not long ago, when Christmas never came (at least for some people), and we just passed the anniversary of an event that caused that to happen.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook elementary school and started shooting. By the time he was done, he had killed 20 children and six adult staff members before he turned the gun on himself. You may have forgotten some of the details, but the link below will help you remember:


If you would like even MORE information, the link below can help you:


Lanza suffered from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a form of autism, and people who are afflicted from  it feel a strong need for a rigid daily structure, which Jodi Picoult explains very well in her book, “House Rules”.

His mental instability would not have been enough to prevent the purchase of the Bushmaster rifle that he carried, but he was not old enough to purchase the Glock pistol that was owned by his mother. Shortly before the shooting, his mother announced that she was thinking of moving to another town, which would be devastating news to a person with Asperger’s, and probably was enough to lead to his last desperate act.

After the shooting, people from around the country clamored for tougher gun laws, but Connecticut (where the shooting occurred) was one of the few that did. States around the country continued to loosen, rather than tighten, their gun laws, but that all changed early in 2018, and for one reason:

Parkland.


After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Congress STILL took no action, but state legislatures did. State legislatures passed 69 gun control measures this year, more than three times the number that were passed in 2017. In addition, legislators rejected nearly 90% of the state-level laws backed by the NRA. Although the Parkland shooting was part of  the reason for the increase in gun control laws, the national school walkout on April 20 (the anniversary of the Columbine shooting) also got the attention of lawmakers across the country.







Parkland became different due to the fact that the student survivors themselves took action, and it wasn’t long before most of the people in the country knew who Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg were. In March 2018, González was on the cover of Time magazine along with fellow activists Jaclyn CorinDavid HoggCameron Kasky, and Alex Wind. That same month she was profiled by France 24.




Not surprisingly, Gonzalez has come under attack from right wing conspiracy theories and hoaxes since the shooting – but she got results.

In March 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. It raises the minimum age for buying firearms to 21, establishes waiting periods and background checks, provides a program for the arming of some teachers and the hiring of school police, bans bump stocks, and bars potentially violent or mentally unhealthy people arrested under certain laws from possessing guns. In all, the law allocates around $400 million for implementation. Rick Scott signed the bill into law on March 9. The governor commented, "To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard. You didn't let up and you fought until there was change.

In 2017, the U.S. gun death rate hit a 20 year high, when nearly 40,000 people lost their lives due to firearms. Included in that total are the 58 people who were killed in Las Vegas in November. As the charts below show, the gun death rate has been on a steady climb since at least 2000.


Fortunately, gun deaths appear to have gone down in 2018, even though the decrease appears to be modest.


The response to the Parkland shooting was one of the reasons for the decrease, but there are THREE factors that are going to lead to further declines:
1)    The House of Representatives will be controlled by the Democrats after the 1st of the year, and one of the items that will be discussed is universal background checks for ALL gun purchases
2)   The NRA itself had a tough year financially in 2018. The organization lost $55 million, and a large part deficit was due to a large decline in membership dues.


3)   The NRA spent $30 million to help Donald Trump to get elected – but that is  about to backfire on them in a huge way, due to the actions of a red-headed Russian named Maria Butina. Some of that money, you see, apparently came from Russia, which is highly illegal.

On Deceber 12, Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act illegally as an unregistered Russian foreign agent. Since 2011, she has worked for Alexsandr Torshin, who was a former member of Vladimir Putin's United Russian Party.
Torshin started attending NRA meetings in 2011, and then-president David Keene attended a meeting of the Russian group "Right to Bear Arms" in Moscow in 2013.
In 2013, Butina met Republican political operative Paul Erickson in Russia. The two became close, started dating, and eventually moved in together. In 2015 she emailed him a description of her plan to help the Republicans win the 2016 elections through the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In 2015, a number of NRA officials attended Right to Bear Arms's annual gun conference in Russia. Among them were Keene, gun manufacturer and NRA first vice president Pete Brownell, conservative American political operative Paul Erickson, and Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke. One of their hosts was Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who in 2014 was sanctioned by the White House following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Clarke's trip cost $40,000, with all expenses paid by the NRA, Pete Brownell (an NRA board member and CEO of a gun-parts supply company) and Right to Bear Arms. According to a disclosure Clarke filed, Right to Bear Arms paid $6,000 to cover his meals, lodging, transportation and other expenses. During the meeting, Clarke met the Russian foreign minister and attended a conference at which Torshin spoke. In November 2016, Torshin tweeted that he and Butina were lifetime NRA members.
In a June 2015 article published in The National Interest, a conservative American international affairs magazine, just before Trump announced his candidacy for president, Butina urged better relations between the United States and Russia, saying, "It may take the election of a Republican to the White House in 2016 to improve relations between the Russian Federation and the United States." 
Her biography on the article did not mention that she worked for the Russian government. The next month, Butina attended FreedomFest, where Trump gave a speech, and asked him from the audience about ending U.S. sanctions against Russia, to which he replied, "I don't think you'd need the sanctions." Butina hosted a birthday party attended by Erickson and Trump campaign aides shortly after the 2016 election
To paraphrase one of Trump's tweets, the connection between the NRA and the Trump campaign is a "smocking gun"
To bring a sense of closure to the tragedy, the city of Sandy Hook razed both the elementary school where the shooting occurred, as well as the home where Adam Lanza lived with his mother – but that apparently was not enough.

On the morning of December 14, 2018, a bomb threat was called into the new Sandy Hook school, forcing the evacuation of the school.


It appears that our country is FINALLY moving in the right direction on gun control, but yesterday’s bomb threat is a reminder that there are far too many crazy people that live in the United States, and it will take continued vigilance to minimize that damage that they can do.

Having said that, though, it’s time to set the nonsense aside, and focus on the fact that Christmas IS supposed to be a time of joy and sharing. On that note, all I can say is this:

Merry Christmas !